The Farley Report from Phoenix #172: 2-26-13

This week's Farley Report reprises our theme of good news/bad news in the Legislature. Although the news is mixed, I'm certainly seeing an improvement over some legislative sessions in the recent past. 

I'll start with the bad. We gave a preliminary OK to yet another bill that will get us featured on Comedy Central, as we continue our efforts to return our society to the bad ol' days of the 19th century. 

Up here we hear plenty of rhetoric on nullification of federal laws that may have originally been expounded by legendary Southern secessionist and and defender of slavery John C. Calhoun, and now we are being treated to talk reminiscent of William Jennings Bryan's 1898 "Cross of Gold" speech. 

SB1439, authored by Chester Crandell (R-Heber), would allow anyone to use any form of gold or silver as legal tender in Arizona. Yes, if you've been hankering to buy your groceries using Grandma's silver fork, you could soon be in luck. 

In order to roll this out, retail establishments would have to have scales at every cash register, along with an assayer on staff to determine the purity of the gold and silver. Counterfeiters would have a field day. And if the purchase requires sales tax, that tax would have to be collected in the same form as the rest of the tender -- in pieces of Grandma's silver fork, for instance. 

The origin of this bill makes things even worse. Utah passed the same language into law in 2011, spearheaded by a gentleman who happened to own a private mint that makes gold and silver coins. This gentleman has since had his assets frozen by the Securities and Exchange Commission due to allegations that he ran a Ponzi scheme in which 600 investors lost around $100 million. You can read more details in the Salt Lake City Tribune here.

Sad as it seems, this bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on a party-line vote, and is headed to the floor tomorrow. I will seek to amend it to add Cotton, Citrus, Copper, Cattle, and Climate as legal tender in Arizona as well--I'd like to pay for my next oil change with a Mason jar of sunbeams. We'll see how that goes.

The good news is that a new majority of the moderate killed a bad bill last Thursday on the Senate floor. SB1182, authored by Gail Griffin (R-Hereford), would have prohibited unions and associations from deducting voluntary dues from the paychecks of members who are public employees, including police and firefighters. In a 12-17 smackdown, the message was delivered loud and clear -- the war on public employees has ended here in the Arizona Legislature. 

There are two other bills just like it still in the pipeline, but they will meet the same fate if brought to a vote, and Speaker Andy Tobin (R-Paulden) has already declared that he will only bring similar bills to a vote on the floor if the Senate sends them over. He also agrees that public safety should not be a partisan issue, and we should not attack those who put their lives on the line for us. 

Last Saturday, the Arizona Republic editorialized in favor of my SB1327 that would create a diverse task force to study and run pilot programs to replace the declining and dying gas tax. The bill is currently in limbo -- it passed out of Transportation, but was not heard in the other two committees to which it was assigned. However, a number of members of both parties want to keep the discussion going, so we are looking for possible ways to resurrect the bill. Even if we are not successful, we will institute a statewide series of meetings of a similar task force by the authority of my office in order to raise public awareness of the impending transportation funding crisis. There is more than one way to get things done around here.

Thanks for your faith in me as your Senator. 

Steve

Steve Farley

Senator, District 9, Tucson

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